Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A 9-5er, non-contender, non-finisher heading to the Olympic Trials!

noun | nine·two·fiv·er
: a person who works 9 to 5

noun | non·con·ten·der
: a person who has no chance of winning in a contest

noun | non·fin·ish·er
: a person who starts something but does not finish it

Why, yes, I'm toeing the start line at my second Olympic Trials marathon.  But, there's a catch.

If you read the headline closely enough, you'll realize that I don't plan on crossing the finish line of the (second) most important race of my life.  Gulp.

Don't worry, I've come to terms with my predicament because I still have the privilege to toe the line alongside our country's best distance runners. Numerous people have had to drop out from the race, which is especially difficult for those professional runners whose entire livelihood depends on one major marathon a year, and, every four years, a hope for an Olympic berth.  Fortunately for me, running is not my career nor does my paycheck depend on my race performance.  As a non-contender, I never had the chance to make the Olympic team, but I do have the opportunity to pursue big dreams and to push myself to new limits.  The Olympic Trials marathon allows me to toe the line and compete with so many talented women who have poured countless miles, energy and mental stamina into this one endeavor.  It's an opportunity that merely puts us all on the big stage together, so that we can achieve our dreams one mile at time, side-by-side.

Unfortunately for me, I've battled a calf strain and an achilles issue since October 9th.  In the sixteen weeks leading up to the Trials, I envisioned:

  • 12 weeks of 85+ miles per week
  • 24 unique workouts
  • Four 22+ miles long runs

Nope.  Instead, this is what happened:

  • 44 consecutive days off from late November to early January
  • 5 weeks of running, at an average of 25 miles per week
  • 3 unique workouts
  • 8 miles longest run

Spent a lot of time with needles in me
You don't need any more information to understand why I'm not finishing the race.  It's too risky; it's practically delusional. Tendon injuries are fickle and unpredictable.  They could come back at anytime, and you don't know how long they'll bug you for.  So, I'm not finishing and that's that.

But the good news? I still get to toe the start line, run side-by-side with Meagan and help her achieve her goals. Because on Saturday, Meagan's goals will become mine.  My purpose is to make her race be as great as it can possibly be.  Because I'm by her side, providing encouragement, water and Gatorade, maybe even a wind block if necessary, I will take some of her stress away.

So on Saturday, I will toe the line and then I will gracefully bow out of the race when it seems necessary.  I have the honor to run a couple of miles, while my friends and family cheer loudly not only from the sidelines in LA, but also 3000 miles away from the comfort of their own homes, watching on NBC or tracking on their phones.  In that moment, I will feel the tremendous love and support from everyone who made it possible for me be there.  I am so grateful to have such a powerful support group.

And, damn, I definitely wouldn't have been able to toe that start line without the help of so many people:
A huge thanks to all of the people above.  They helped me believe when it mattered most, when my doubts were biggest.  They inspired me to believe I would start at the Trials.

Finally, some helpful information on the Trials coverage.

How to Watch the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon on NBC

Guide to the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 4: The Comeback

26.7 miles
5 Runs
2 Days off
2 workouts (7 x 300m repeats and 2 miles tempo at 6:00 average)
2 yoga classes
3 weight lifting days
6 hours of walking

This was my fourth week back running and I hit the same total of mileage that I would have completed in one race at the Olympic trials if I hadn't gotten injured. It's okay though, because I still get to toe the starting line!

This week, I went to my first Strava Track Club workout in probably two months.  I ran solo for some 300m repeats and cheered on the ladies as they sprinted really fast around me.  I was most pleased with my tempo effort on Saturday with Jenna, where I ran 6 total miles, with 2 miles at 606 and 551 pace.   Considering that my goal is to run a lap or two with Meagan at the Trials, I'm really pleased that I can run 6:00 average pace for a couple of miles.  This means that I can still run the pace I would have liked to run, albeit for a shorter distance.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week 3: The Comeback

20 miles
5 days running, 2 days off
5.3 miles longest continuous run
1 lift day
2 sore calves

This week, I felt like my body was falling apart, but my two PTs from Durham reached out to me to reassure me that I was doing just fine.  My calves are sore, and my quads are killing me.  My left knee tightness came back and that completely freaked me out; I thought I was on the path to injury again.  I started foam rolling and resurrected even more rehab activities for me to be doing. I feel like I constantly live on the foam roller or on my yoga mat, doing crazy mobility drills.  I'll do whatever it takes for me to feel like a normal runner again.  The positive thing is that running is getting easier.  This unorthodox method back is going great, even though it's tough mentally and physically.  My lower back is still ridiculously tight, so I'm really beginning to think that I need a new mattress.  The one I have now is too firm and my back has been bad the whole time I've lived in California.

I also started going to the YMCA yoga classes on the weekends and they are the BOMB. I love them.  The instructors are great.  It's basically deep stretch classes and the bonus is that one of the instructors incorporates foam rolling into the practice.  SWEET!

Here's my week in review, for those who care about a different approach to coming back to running after taking 7 entire weeks completely off.

  • Monday: 2 x 10 in 6:00 with 1:00 rest, 8:00 in 5:56 pace for 4.8 miles total in 32:00 (also this was a stop rest), walked 2 hours for 6 miles total
  • Tuesday:  Off
  • Wednesday:  3 miles continuous in 6:40 pace, tired today
  • Thursday: 4 miles continuous on feel in 6:40 pace, felt way easier than yesterday , walked 3 miles to work
  • Friday:  5.3 miles in 6:31 average via 10 x 3:00 with 30s jog rest.  I did all intervals at 6;30-6:10 pace
  • Saturday:  6 miles hike, yoga
  • Sunday:  3 miles walk, yoga, lift, 3 miles in 21:00 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 2: The Comeback Continues

11.7 Miles Total
3.2 miles continuous! (YIPPEE!)
2 days in LA

Hey-oh!  I ran over 10 miles total this week.  Hard to imagine that in just four weeks, I should be completing 26.2 miles at the Olympic Trials.  Don't worry - I'm not actually going to run 26.2 miles. I don't want to risk an injury, so basically my whole purpose over these next four weeks is to get my body used to running 6:10 pace for a sustained period of time so that I can at least run side-by-side with Meagan for some portion of the Trials race.

For the next two weeks, Garrett has concocted an unorthodox plan to get me back on track.  He's consulted a former Duke Track Coach and two Duke PTs who helped a Blue Jays pitcher come back from surgery in practically record time.  So, I am going with it.

Here's how crazy my comeback has been, keeping in mind that typically comeback involves running slow for like three weeks and maybe eventually incorporating strides:

  • Monday:  10 minutes at 6:36 pace, 2:00 stop and rest, 6:20 for mile
  • Tuesday:  weight lifting + 30 minutes walk
  • Wednesday:  3.6 total miles in 6:52 via 3 x mile with 2:00 stop rest in 6:11, 5:51, 6:15, 6:33  for a half mile, lifting
  • Thursday:  lifting
  • Friday:  2.4 miles continuous at 6:17 pace, walked 30 minutes
  • Saturday:  3.2 miles in 7:23 pace with Katie
  • Sunday: walked 3 miles, biked 10 miles
I'm feeling good even though my calves and quads are very, very tight.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 1: The Comeback begins

3.6 miles total
3 runs

I ran.

Sorry, let me type that again.


For the first time in 47 days, I kicked off my first run of the year on Monday at the Charlotte Athletic Club on the Woodway treadmill.  It was completely on a whim. Something just felt right.  I mean, there was a Woodway treadmill just practically begging me to test out my achilles on it.  I hopped on, walked 2 minutes, ran 2 minutes, walked 2 minutes, ran 2 minutes. I felt great!  Then, two days later, on Wednesday, I ran an entire mile.  GASP!  I wasn't even breathing hard.  I felt like maybe the running gods had decided to not let me get completely out of shape.  That feeling of complete godliness disappeared after I ran outside on Saturday.  I ran 2 x 1 mile with 1 minute rest.  My lungs were on fire and I reminded myself that I used to crank out 26.2 miles at 6:07 pace.  It will come; I just need to be patient and to trust the process.

In between all of that, I've been lifting regularly to ensure I strengthen the areas of weakness.  I feel so much stronger and it's such a great feeling. I'm glad that an injury forced me to finally get on the lifting bandwagon and it's something I'd definitely like to continue until I'm well past the senior citizen age so that I can try to keep my skin tight into old age.  But I digress.  This was also the first real week that I tried cross training a bit more. I did a cycle class, water ran with Billy.  It's much easier to cross train when you have a partner to do it with.

I'm not a real big believer in cross training.  For me, it just emotionally drains me.  I hate being on stationary equipment. I'd rather be physically moving closer to an object, versus staring into a wall for an hour.  Because of that, I've begun walking the same amount of time that I would otherwise be running.  This will also help my body get used to more weigh bearing so that I may have a better chance of running as far I can go at the Trials.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where I've been in 2015

Shamelessly following the same theme that Sarah used....

ONE Duke Fuqua School of Business MBA Degree!

TWO Injuries: L Calf Strain (October) and R Achilles (November through January)

FOUR Weeks of Injury:  Tight Calf (L)

2,780 Miles between me and my husband (California to North Carolina)

60,000 Airline Miles:  FOUR Countries (Chile, UAE, India, Turkey) & NINE States (AZ, FL, NY, SC, CA, MA, PA, IL, OH)

83 Days off from running in 2015, with 43 consecutive days off from Nov 15th until the end

  • January - 10 days off
  • Feb - 0 days off
  • Mar - 0 days off
  • Apr - 1 day off
  • May - 1 day off
  • Jun - 10 days off
  • Jul - 1 day off
  • Aug - 1 day off
  • Sep - 4 days off
  • Oct - 10 days off
  • Nov - 15 days off
  • Dec - 30 days off
2015 wasn't exactly what I had planned in mind.  I was hoping for a exuberant ending to my MBA, followed by several weeks off work for the holidays, with the capacity to pound the pavement for some solid training leading up to the Olympic Trials.  For the first time in exactly ten years, I was sidelined for more than one week with a real injury.  With an injury that was unapologetic and unwavering in its persistence.  With an injury that stole away my chance to finish a race at my second Olympic Trials.

That's right:  at this point, it's very likely that I won't finish the Olympic Trials Marathon.  The silver lining is that now I have the opportunity to try to run fast on the track at the Stanford Invite or perhaps even on the roads.

But, I don't want my injury in 2015 to blur away all of the great things that happened in my life.  I made so many great new forever friends through my Duke MBA program. I got to travel to four different countries, immerse myself in the culture, and run the streets with my classmate Katie.  I got a big promotion at work, leading to a move to sunny California where I can really challenge myself.  I hiked Patagonia! I hiked Big Sur! I hiked the Marin Headlands!  I ran a 10K PR at the Cooper River Bridge Run.  I spent my 30th birthday surrounded by people who were willing to pay money to hang out with me on the big day.  I'm very, very fortunate and grateful for the many wonderful things that I did this year and I'm confident that I'll bounce back from my injury to have a fast (and happy) spring.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week in Review

0 Miles
7 days off
1 Weight Lifting Session
2 Ab sessions
18 miles hiked
0 Cross Training
3 days in Phoenix

Garrett couldn’t have arrived at a better time, right when I really needed a PT to look me over and tell me and to do. Unfortunately, Garrett said we need tools that he doesn't have - like dry needling and patches and laser. So instead, I joined the YMCA so that I can start water running in January when I get back.  By Thursday, we made our way from California to Phoenix so that I could celebrate my birthday with my family and friends Matt, Nick, Allie, Merry and Michelle.  It was a great weekend, even if I had to stay back at the house when all the girls set off for a long run on Saturday.   We hiked on Saturday morning and went out to dinner, with high hopes of going out dancing later.  Instead, we stayed in a did a puzzle of cows doing yoga.  Yes, that's right, I started my 30s by doing a puzzle.  Sounds perfect to me.  Tomorrow Garrett and I fly back to Durham and I'm really excited to have some time where I don't have to be anywhere and I don't have to do anything, besides try to see some medical professionals. :